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Q. How did Darius settle the government of the empire ?
for the overthrow of the empire, soon after the days of Nebuchadnezzar, put an end to its growing population. According to Q. Curtius, only ninety furlongs of it appear to bave been built at the time when it fell into the hands of Alexander.See Prideaux's Connect. part. i. book 2.
The Babylonians, victualled for twenty years, ridiculed all the attempts of Cyrus, who spent nearly two years before the city. Finding it impossible to storm it, he resolved to reduce it by famine, for which purpose he caused a deep ditch to be formed around the city; and at this one twelfth part of the army did duty every month. As this threatened to be a very protracted siege, if carried on in this manner, he gladly availed himself of a very hazardous stratagem to bring it to a close. It was possible that the gates of the city leading to the river might, during the general dissipation, be left open, or indifferently guarded ; and if so, his enterprize, daring as it was, might be successful. He therefore made suitable are rangements ;-and on a certain day one party of the troops opened the canal to convey the water of the Euplırates to the great lake or reservoir; while at the close of the evening of the same day, another party opened the communication be. tween the river and the trenches above the city ;-so that the water being drawn off, the river became fordable about midnight. The Persian troops stationed both above and below the city, then entered the channel, condicted by two rebel Babylonian chiefs ; and as providence bad ordained, Isa. xlv. 1. finding the gates open and unguarded; ascended into the city. After a dreadful carnage both divisions of the invaders met at the palace, which they stormed; and having slain the king, who bravely defended himself, and all his nobles, they became masters of the city. The accomplish. ment of a long chain of prophecies by this event, is pointed out in a very satisfactory manner by M. Rollin, Anc. Hist. vol. ii.-See Appendix Q.
A. He appointed over it one hundred and twenty princes, whom he made amenable to three presidents, of whom Daniel was chief.
Q. What was the consequence of Daniel's exaltation ?
A. It excited the envy of the nobles, who finding his conduct as a statesman unimpeachable, sought to find occasion " against him concerning the law of his God." For this purpose they procured a royal decree forbidding any man to ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, save of the king only, on pain of being cast into the den of lions.
Q. Did this decree deter Daniel from prayer ?
A. No: “though Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house ; and his windows being open in his chamber towards Jerusalem, he kneeledthree times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime." His enemies therefore accused him to Darius,* who sore displeased with himself-laboured till the going down of the sunt to deliver Daniel," but in vain; for the princes insisted on the observance of the decree. Daniel was consequently cast into the den, which was covered with a large stone and sealed with the signets of the king and of the nobles.
Q. How did this circumstance affect Darius ?
* This Darius is generally allowed to be the Cyaxares of Median history.
+ In the east the execution of a sentence is immediate. The Scriptures furnish ample proof of this.
night fasting : neither were instruments of music brought before him : and his sleep went from him.” Next morning he went early to the den, and cried with a lamentable voice, “ O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel to the king, “O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me : forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.”
Q. What followed ?
A. Darius immediately ordered the liberation of Daniel from the den ; to which he consigned bis accusers, together with their wives and children: “and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces, before they came to the bottom of the den." The signal deliverance of the prophet was soon after made known, by a royal deeree, to all the subjects of the empire, who were required to “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.” A. M. 3466. Q. What vision had Daniel in the first B. C. 538. year of this reign ?
A. Whilst Daniel by humiliation, fasting, and prayer, sought the Lord, the angel Gabriel appeared to him, and not only assured him of the restoration of Judah, but defined to him the time when Messiah the prince should appear" to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness."
Q. How long did Darius reign in Babylon ?
A. M. 3468. A. He reigned two years. At his death B. C. 536. the government of the whole empire devolved on Cyrus king of Persia.*
From the Return of the Jews to the Birth of Christ.t.
Q. How did Cyrus distinguish the period of his accession to the whole of the empire ?
A. By giving permission to the Jews to return
power at Rome
* This is usually considered as the commencement of the second great monarchy.
+ Between the æra of the Return of the Jews, and the close of the Old Testament history, the principal events in the annals of the Gentile nations are :
B. C. The expulsion of Tarquin and abolition of the royal
509 The battle of Marathon The battle of Thermopylæ
480 The battle of Platæa
479 The laws of the twelve tables established at Rome 451 The commencement of the Peloponnesian war ........ '431
Profane history during this period abounds in celebrated characters; among whom we find Junius Brutus, Heraclitus, Coriolanus, Aristides, Miltiades, Leonidas, Themistocles, Anaxagoras, Sophocles, Æschylus, Cincinnatns, Aristarchus, Cymon, Socrates, Thucydides, Herodotus, Zaleucus, Charondas, Empedocles, Euripides, Pericles, Aristophanes, Meton, Hippocrates, Alcibiades, &c.
home,* and by ordering the re-erection of the temple, and the restoration of all the sacred vessels.t About fifty thousand of the Jews therefore, availing themselves of the decree of Cyrus, returned to Jerusalem under the conduct of Zerubbabel grandson of Jeconiah, and Jeshua the high priest.
Q. What was their first care after their arrival at Jerusalem ?
A. The erection of the altar, and the renewal of the morning and evening sacrifice. But in the seventh month they celebrated the feast of trumpets, observed the day of atonement, and kept the feast of tabernacles.
Q. When was the foundation of the temple laid ?
A. In the second month of the second year of their return. This event was attended with great rejoicings ; but many of the priests, and Levites, and chief of the fathers,--ancient men, that had seen the glory of the
* It is supposed that this edict was procired by the interest of Daniel, who was eminently distinguished by both the Babylonian and Persian princes. The decree contains evidence that Cyrus had seen the prophecies concerning himself. Compare 2 Chron. xxxvi. 22. Ezra i. 1-4. with Isa. xliv. 27, 28.
+ See Ezra i. 7-ll. Ezra ii. 64, 65. The actual number of those that returned, compared with the vast multitudes, which from the records in the book of Esther, and Acts ii. 5, 9. seem to have been left behind, warrants the hope of a more glorious restoration of God's ancient people, agreeably to prophecy.
$ For the genealogy of Zerubbabel, see 1 Chron. iii. 17. Ezra iii. 2. Matt. i. 12. and for that of Jeshua or Joshua, 1 Chron. vi. 4-15. Ezra iii. 2.